tv Book Discussion on The Remarkable Education of John Quincy Adams CSPAN February 8, 2015 2:00pm-2:35pm EST
consensual kind of world view. things have changed since then. you see many more interracial couples, you have somewhat more integrated schools. you do see more elected officials that are mexican-american. but there's still a long, long way to go. first of all, i don't think our story's being told at all, not very much. ..
we need to continue to struggle and eventually, things will change. auguries of examples. one of the things have happened was they got rid of laws. it used to be illegal for blacks to marry whites. now they can do that. you don't see that everywhere you go. but i see a lot more than i used to. i feel apartment beginning of relationships. a marriage about to become legal. it is just evolutionary. society just has to organically subconsciously decide it's time for a change. in time to move in any
direction. you can't legislate that. people often say you can't legislate morality. qaeda can because if you couldn't you would make certain things illegal. but you can't legislate people's inside value is an everybody agrees you can't murder php discriminate? some people push for that right now religiously. i want the right to discriminate because that's my religion. what we have to do is just wait. my children are far more tolerant of their peers in other things going on than my generation and certainly far more tolerant than my parents generation.
>> in her new book author tranter recounts the formative years of john quincy adams. it is next on booktv. >> tonight it's a great pleasure to welcome mhs hello, friend of the institution phyllis lee levin. she has been a reporter, editor and columnist for "the new york times" as well as a writer and editor at "vogue" were among her many stories with an insightful way has interview with a reclusive pat nixon. i would love to take a look at that at some point. she's also the author of several books including abigail adams and edith and woodrow. she lives in manhattan and is also braved the blizzard to join us this evening. let's welcome phyllis. [applause]
>> thank you. i'm really very honored to be here. i am also worried. all of you know a great deal more about his family than i do earliest half of you to work your and i feel like a cousin who has come to tell you about your family uninvited. so i'll begin. thank you. the question i am asked most often about this book is simply this. why john quint the add-ons -- why john quit the add-ons? i know you didn't notice aaron with enormous affection --
[inaudible] locally as it may seem, i came to abigail and john adams has just been said by mademoiselle magazine "the new york times" -- [inaudible] >> go ahead, try it again. [inaudible] anyway and i was up a magazine a little bit productively when then celebrated editor and designer called to ask if i would be interesting to read a book on 50 historic houses. the author had written me to her, but she had no time on the
strength of an article i'd written for her magazine, she thought the subject what appeals to me. and she was right. in the course of researching one of 50 houses, my son sean found the letters of mrs. adams, those of abigail and as my family might say, for better or worse or forever. i have been engaged with the family papers and the family and there was no turning back. somehow, given my fascination with how and why our nation was cobbled together, it is john and abigail and john quincy vb version of this riveting story that i have the most compelling on hand. and i am not alone at my error. in the past year or so i heard
the eminent historian, gordon would speak about the papers of john adams, which he had edited for the library of america. the other presidents will make up one volume of peace. jon kyl for because he was such a splendid writer and would have been a novelist where certain to which i must add that it's obvious he didn't know abigail because he would've got the same abigail to all the world knows now, but didn't then. she was like a starlet when i discovered her. she stood for so many names that feminists have always tangled over, such as women not to have the vote and talented women black swans should call them or not to be balked on by large
families and domestic responsibilities. and what about giving up your name when you marry and many for private personal space. where she taught about having a closet of iran woolf wanted a room. and then there was john and his instructions to have a go on her role as schoolmistress charged with their education she was getting attention upon the great and glorious objects. root out every little thing, we doubt every measure. make them good and manly and more, teach them to score them to scorn injustice ingratitude cowardice. well absolutely smitten, i decided to cast my lot with abigail and company and get on with my research on the adam papers embedded in the massachusetts historical
society. eventually i would work on the microfilm copy of columbia. this is how i remember my first visit with the late lyman h. butterfield held forth in the top floor sanctuary with windows overlooking the fenway. as i was a journalist, rather than a correctly laurel scholar i understood his guarded object to be about my quest a slight man with puzzled eyes distantly cordial he seemed to be testing my powers of endurance rather than intellect as he explained that 10 old scope of the adams family its accomplishments, trials come idiosyncrasies. i listened as though all the adams occupied seats in the room, but i was wrong if i thought i had one into my cause
that would a scholar. some month later i asked him for a letter of introduction to head of the british museum just in case i encountered red tape with research during my very short day they are, having left my four children and husband far behind. but not at all. dutifully mr. butterfield had given me a note on fine white paper, flap concealed, which i carry to a bench outside the door. sir john was delayed, a note obviously was burning a hole in my hand and i was moved to read it. this is what he said. mrs. levin is writing a book about abigail adams. she seems to be serious about her work. [laughter] and so i was. and when i finished work on
abigail and john remembered somehow feeling i had left john quincy mid air, but i defected to write a book on woodrow wilson and his wife, while at edith was in command and once completed, i returned with relief and pleasure to john quincy. a world traveler, both uncle and father called him the greatest traveler of his age. he was a remarkable linguist. he spoke not only french and dutch, but at one time or another studied italian, spanish, german and russian. the price they redeemed in translating latin and greek. he was a graduate of harvard college with phi beta kappa a lawyer, essayist of some renowned and vibrant controversy in significant political circles. he knew from early use onboard
americans renowned including benjamin franklin and mark e. lafayette and thomas jefferson a dear friend at that point. it was george washington who named john quincy adams to his first diplomatic pose as minister resident for the united states of america with their height mightiness the state general of the united netherlands. as the first president of the united states understood the genius of john quincy adams, so did the 35th. john f. kennedy wrote of his fellow bostonians held more important offices and participated in more important event than anyone in the history of our nation. during his long lifetime incumbency in the american revolution, the war of 1812, the
early and late napoleonic age john quincy served as minister to russia and as head of the american mission began to negotiate peace with england and conclude the war of 1812 as minister to england. he turned only over to serve on the united states supreme court and made his final journey home as appointment as secretary of state under james monroe. he was inoculated six president of the united states and served as a member of the house of representatives from november 1820 until his death 1830 until his death in february 1848 in the into round of his foreign service he was professor of harvard. massachusetts state and other and united states senator. in the extraordinary wrath of john quit his presidential
ambitions he envisioned a great, magnificent government that would end slavery and wars, created national university and astronomical observatory -- did i say that right? a naval academy and the department of the interior and the research and exploration. john quincy's impassioned denunciation of slavery that stormed through his letters, notes, speeches in congress, or dramatically compelling wording of his emancipation proclamation, signed on september 23 1863 25 -- 15 years after don quincy's depth of 1848. he was also historian defender of the slaves of rebellion.
so my question is this. what went wrong? with this resume, i would've thought john quincy might be esteemed as one of america's greatest public service. instead, people remembered him inside all is a failed one term president, a curmudgeon however brilliant. sadly unobvious lee, it has been mostly long forgotten or never known that john quint e. had failed in 1778, accompanying his father, newly appointed to serve as one of the three united states commissioners. after a brief return home where he would've stayed but for his mother's urging, he and his father had back when congress named john on to negotiate peace and commercial treaties with great britain.
next he was sent to negotiate alone for the united states from the netherlands. along the way john quincy attendant to schools where he acquired floret french and went on to study and amsterdam and late nights well. at 14 in july 1781 he left amsterdam for russia as secretary and interpreter for america's newly appointed ambassador, who knew the court of catherine the second. in his grandsons judgment, john quincy never had a childhood fight ancestry, birth, judean parental expectation almost as tangible as a pewter spoon and his mother, abigail's kitchen cupboard. at times insufferably lonely his faraway natives feel locked
off from home, family and friends. he grew acutely sensitive to any and every thought of separation. life is painfully pear pelagic. he wasn't with people long enough to trust them and if he did make friends, and they came and went and never to be seen again those few he called friends, he fervently wished he might grapple to my heart with steel. ultimately it was the state of his affairs that drew me to this burden gives distance somewhat heroic young man a born and bread patriot is spotless integrity, fiercely independent and intensely interest back to and on occasion, and patiently undiplomatic. i found john quincy and altogether riveting character and in this sense, i thought it must come to his do.
people knew of his early life and times, it would be better in the did appreciate it, probably honored enough my research proliferated david might be a better word. i admiration only deepened not only for this classic scholar, scientists linguists, diplomat, but for the vulnerable has been and father. his earliest letters very self-portrait as prescient as they are appealing, earnest, sincere, conscientious, and beautiful in the carling. a fix he was 30 perfectionist subtle about failed expect haitians and thrift showers. he inherited in his mind for a long time and apologizes to his cousin by the affairs of much less important have prevented
him from doing so, quote too much time to play but he has made very little proficiency in reading. there is a great deal of room for me to grow better. still apologetic and downed 1777 he loves to his letters much better than he was to write them he told his father, because he writes poorly, my head is much too fickle. i thought perfuming after running after birds eggs and trifles. until i get with myself mama has a troublesome task. fortunately, his teenage years -- her teenage years on john quincy considered writing as the business and duty of my life and kept a journal because he wish to report the fleeting reflection which originates in
some transient occurrences. yet in the habit of testing himself, he was humble and wished far more he had a brain as that of some of his friends and read without a subject and page upon page of his not being. i guess that this kind are partially distributed and i was never yet able to write without knowing upon what. again fortunately he did read about what he knew and what he saw and how he felt. over a period of 65 years he wrote about his challenges of his first real love his depressed state. he wrote sympathetically of american indians, and padres to europeans warring countries of europe's kings and queens emperors encompasses. a vast art collection semifamous theater and music.
reported not napoleon continually during numerous accounts of porsche meetings when joachim on. as a result quote no other american, the historian has said touched life have quite so many points over quite so wanda. as john quincy adams. he was a frigid in ac new englander, but we do have seen his diary can perceive it was really have a hot and passionate nature both talents and intent in his loans. the emotionalism of the diary is indeed one of its most appealing poets. those who have known historians, that is the hitch. unless you have read the unexpurgated version, you cannot possibly know understand or
appreciate john quincy adams in full until fairly recently, by far the most influential has been the 15000 page 51 volume. actually a set of diaries compressed by john quincy's son charles francis into 12 volumes of memories published in 1784, which is entirely another work edited under stringent self-imposed guidelines it was quote very clear to charles francis that abridgment was indispensable, otherwise he feared the superabundance of the material with equal in quantity 100 volumes of voltaire. and so charles francis rice, assuming this to be certain it became necessary to fix the will of selection, which should be fair and honest answer and the object he decided to eliminate the details of common rights and
the events of no interest to the public. faithful to this rule, he trusted he supplied pretty much all the most curious reader would eat desirous to know. well he managed just the reverse, training the works of intimate dealings, tender conflict did her painfully candid all told the 12 volumes at the 6576 pages in which for instance, his wife is only vaguely present, three times the volume one, one to eight once in 11 in paris twice. 15 times in the 497 pages that cover four years in russia. they give references to some of the most challenging and moving moments of john quincy five, such as his response to the data
that leaves the reader of this diary feeling apologetic intrusion. one fears forehand and for the lisa catherine, both so wounded. nor does the second most important source, the seven said john quickly favored disclosure. on the contrary, worthington editor of the massachusetts society -- historical society and the establishment of the family trust since 1905 set out to include come and i quote, what is a permanent historical value and what is essential to a comprehension of the man in all the private and public release. nothingness surprise, which can contribute to this purpose and the text is printed as it was written. nothing that is accepted entire paragraphs and even salutations or eliminated, which means in the case of john quincy details
during report from death for example, the reader would never know they were addressed to his wife never mind his concern over well-being, as a result according to want john quincy adam's is a bloodless creature, a mere writing machine and his wife. nor did john quincy's wife the provocative catherine adams hoped to improve her husband's public relations issued a cosmopolitan upbringing. she spoke english, born and reared in england and rant, her father was from maryland. her mother british, yet he pulls the speak and probably a persona charm. at 65 and punishing aware of the constitutional irritability trying to friends and painful to
herself, she wrote a second memoir, the corrosive adventures of a nobody that is one herself a host of sympathetic followers at the terrible cost most tragically of reinforcing her husband's harsh reputation. and therefore, contrary to her complaints, the supplies of reading on the unpublished diary of letters is the discovery of a sympathetic concern has been on despite bedside and not a stats faraway in the fullness of his confidence, and her providing the stormy negotiations against the woodmark cnn's other word 1812. later in life he has the turmoil at the marriott, one as president he wrote in his note february 1828, my wife was almost the whole of this day extremely and alarmingly ill and
i was as more than what happened in the course of my life distracted with the multitude at the same time and the deepest distress. the agony of mine which at such times i adore as indescribable the suffering that must be suppressed in the cheerfulness that must be assumed, the indifferent to gaiety, which surround me the various calls of sympathy with those brings society to me from altogether become both the state of existence, which sometimes seems as if there would bus every ligament of self-control. but of course, there were better times as well. i was especially pleased to learn of the affectionate relationship between john quint in his nibbling and vastly entertained john and abigail as
pushy as any present-day parents when it came to fostering john quincy's admission to harvard. [laughter] certainly not the last parrot to attempt to ease the way for their son or daughter's entrance, john adams eagerly sought the help and advice of dr. benjamin waterhouse harper's first professor of the theory and practice of physics has recently founded from a local school. the two had met a benjamin franklin in paris and john did not hesitate to consider him an some respects, he wrote, as one of my family. waterhouse had kept a watchful eye of john quincy and his brother at the university of layton and john needed his help once again. john adams, his better office of visit a unique picture of john quincy's aged 18 and astonishing education, loopholes and i'll end up the father, not the first
to insist his offspring is far brighter than his s.a.t. scores would indicate. [laughter] on april 23rd 1785 john writes that john quincy must undergo an examination of which i suspect he will not appear exactly what he is. in truth there were a few who take their degrees to college you have so much knowledge. but john quincy, he continues hot pursuit studies by himself on his travels without any tutor and therefore seem necessary to make this apology for him and to request that waterhouse communicated in confidence to the gentleman who want to examine him and touch issues. if you were to examine an english, i know not where you would like anybody superior. as you know looking back on his
early years, john quincy regarded them as a lesson in humility. so sincere, so earnest, so vehement in my opinion and time but she does that i can only see them as monumental errors, yet wishful as he was, he remained tenacious on a reason to disclaim pastry chasm of order and of benevolence or for that matter costly observation as president his opinion of congress remains passingly relevant to today's shenanigans. at december 1, 1827, he wrote wrote --a number of members of both houses it are as one would in observation and onto themselves in the wanting to date and personal reflections as
ungenerous as they work on just yet caved to the drying rooms and weren't invited to the dinner is. as for the highest class of opposition, this consisted of men as to whom it was always courteous, respectful who abstain from all insulting personalities and their public speeches in private conversations, but applied all their faculties to measures nevertheless. they are the more formidable enemies than the foulmouthed scavengers of the party. john quincy also deplored the role of money in an election. directly or indirectly incorrect and principles. about his papers in general john quincy express reservation yet found his father's journals deeply interesting, but
altogether predict that the same fate for his own writing. he seemed to names that they ought to be can isolate internet leadership. but to the contrary he might have been amazed and confused to find the name in his writings live on with great contemporary society jay q. a twitter celebrity with the headline of the massachusetts historical society some years ago. in recognition of the mentalist format of this line away no more than 40 characters that he kept along with his hugely expensive journals. i haven't checked how many hits he has had, but it seemed to be an awesome launch when i left it. so now i must thank you all for listening to me and i understand that we vary a lot and so i hope
i haven't insulted anyone. last mac >> we are open for questions. we also have some books to publish. would love to have you join afterwards. >> thank you. thank you so much. [inaudible] i am curious about john quincy's take on his siblings and why his siblings did so poorly in their lives. was it because their father was absent so much of the time? i would just love to hear what he thought of them. >> i don't know that he thought. i don't think he expressed himself except you care desperately about what happened to them and followed them loyally through everything.
i think there are opinions that there were such huge separations for so long from john quincy and louisa catherine took only their youngest child with them to russia. and so, the two boys were left with her aunt. and so there was that thought that perhaps that was the reason they fared so poorly. >> i think i heard at some point in anecdote video one point grabbed his wife and watched the makeup off of her face because she didn't deal she should go out with makeup on. is that accurate? and if so, it obviously is disturbing to modern mind to hear that. is that a true anecdote? >> i'm sorry i didn't understand. >> i read an anecdote